Woah. Can we cut down on the melodrama? Bloody show?
What is bloody show—and what on earth does it have to do with pregnancy?
Have a baby, they said. It’ll be fun, they said—and now there’s talk of a bloody show?!
Turns out, when it comes to pregnancy, a bloody show is more than just a description of a Quentin Tarantino movie.
But while a bloody show in pregnancy is nothing to worry about, it can look a little scary.
(Look, nobody said this was going to be pretty.)
So let’s find out a little more about this exciting adventure—or, should we say, let’s get this bloody show on the road.
In this article: 📝
- What is a bloody show?
- What does the bloody show look like?
- Bloody show vs mucus plug
- How long after bloody show do you have a baby?
- How long does bloody show last?
- Other reasons for a bloody show
What is a bloody show?
A bloody show refers to the vaginal discharge that makes its appearance in the grand finale of your pregnancy.
It’s made up of a delightful mix of bloody mucus discharge from the cervix. Lovely.
Yep, that little bundle that you’re going to hold in your arms sure knows how to make one hell of an entrance.
With a whole program of opening acts that look like they were crafted by an expert team of special effects pros, your tiny squirt seems to love a bit of drama.
And then, it’s important to remember that you may well go into labor with no bloody show at all.
What does the bloody show look like?
Here’s the funny part.
For all of that bravado, the bloody show can be pretty light.
(Seriously, is that name really necessary?)
What color should your bloody show be?
It’s usually a rather small amount of bloody mucus discharge and can range in color from red to pink to brown to even a lovely little stripey white-red design.
How much bloody show is normal?
You shouldn’t expect much of a bloody show at all ‒ just a tablespoon or two of bloody mucus discharge.
If you see heavy bleeding, speak to your doctor immediately.
Bloody show vs mucus plug
To understand the bloody show, let’s go back a little to what happens in your cervix while you’re pregnant.
Because our bodies are so damn amazing, the cervix chips in to protect the baby by creating a layer of mucus that serves as a plug for the uterus.
That way, no bacteria or other enemies of growing babies can reach the little speck inside of you.
It’s your baby’s own personal security system. (Sheesh. Acting like a celebrity already.)
While that’s all well and good (thanks again, cervix!), that “mucus plug” that bars entry, also bars exit—and that baby needs to get out somehow.
When it’s time for that to happen, the cervix embarks on its very own dilation process to ensure that your little one has an open(ish) passage to journey into the world.
Um…but what happens to the plug? Good question.
Well, first it loosens, then it releases.
How long after losing your mucus plug do you go into labor?
The thing is, pregnancy hates easy answers.
All bodies are different, and it’s up to yours to decide how to perform this particular feat.
Your mucus plug may drain from you in dribs and drabs, or it could fall out all at once.
Some women start losing their mucus plugs weeks before labor begins, and others as soon as labor begins.
It’s usually thick and gooey and chooses from a color palette of white and pink.
The bloody show and losing the mucus plug are often conflated but are not exactly the same thing.
The bloody show is the result of the dilation of the cervix.
When this happens, it results in the release of a bloody mucus discharge.
Mix them together and you have yourself a bloody show.
That is pretty exciting because it means labor is either imminent or upon you.
Which means baby.
So, let’s return to the battle of the bloody show vs the mucus plug: while it is perfectly acceptable to lose your mucus plug up to weeks before you pop, the bloody show gives you more of a reliable indicator that your baby is on their way.
To make things even more confusing, the bloody show and mucus plug can happen around the same time as your water breaking, which can result in a watery bloody show.
How long after bloody show do you have a baby?
Well, we know it’s our answer to a lot, but… it depends.
Every pregnancy is different ‒ every pregnant body, every baby, every set of circumstances.
So for some pregnancies, a bloody show can mean baby’s mere hours away, but other mamas could be waiting for another week for baby to make their big appearance.
How long after bloody show did labor start?
You might be wondering how long after bloody show do you go into labor?
Well if you’re waiting patiently for labor, a bloody show could be an indicator that it’s just around the corner.
But it also might not.
It could be hours or days from bloody show to labor.
When should I go to the hospital after bloody show?
It’s generally best to see your doctor if you think you’ve had a bloody show.
Even if labor hasn’t started yet, they can run some checks to make sure everything is looking healthy.
But if you’re experiencing bloody show and cramps, then definitely make your way to the hospital ‒ that could mean labor has started and baby’s officially on their way!
What happens to the bloody show if labor is induced?
The one very real thing about all things pregnancy is that it so often doesn’t follow the specific plans we make for it.
In many cases, labor has to be induced.
But, about 75% of the time mamas still get to have a vaginal birth, if that’s what they’re after.
Now, one of the first steps a doctor or midwife will try when it comes to labor induction is what’s known as a membrane sweep.
This involves them “sweeping” the cervix with their finger.
Why?, you ask.
Well, it may encourage that amniotic sac to not hang on so tightly to your cervix—and, as a result, release some prostaglandins (hormones produced by the body during labor) and kick the whole process into gear.
So is a bloody show after a sweep a good sign?
Well, again, there are no one-size-fits-all answers, but some blood after your sweep may mean that the process has worked effectively and that you could soon be on your way to giving birth.
How long does bloody show last?
The bloody show itself is a short performance.
As it involves passing just a couple of tablespoons of bloody mucus discharge, it may happen over a couple of hours.
But if your bloody show lasts for more than a day, or you notice more blood than a little mixed with discharge, we recommend checking in with your doctor.
Other reasons for a bloody show
There are several reasons why you may be seeing what looks like a bloody show in pregnancy.
Bloody show after membrane sweep
Sometimes, for example, your late-stage cervical exams can cause a bit of bleeding that can be confused with the infamous bloody show.
So what you think could be a bloody show after cervical exam might be a little bleeding mixed with your natural leukorrhea (vaginal discharge).
If you see some brown discharge after membrane sweep, that could be a little spotting mixed with discharge ‒ likey not a bloody show after sweep.
Bleeding after cervical check or bloody show? It’s likely to be a little bleeding.
But if there’s a lot of blood, or the spotting lasts for more than 3 days, it’s best to check in with your doctor.
Bloody show but no contractions
Well, while a bloody show can be a precursor to labor, it can take weeks from your bloody show until labor and contractions actually start.
When it comes to labor, bloody shows aren’t the only indicator that baby’s on the way.
🔎 Dive deeper: Signs That Labor is 24–48 Hours Away
As always, if you’re concerned about bleeding during pregnancy, there’s no point in waiting to contact your healthcare practitioner.
They’ll talk you through the best course of action and make sure that all is moving along as swimmingly as it should.
But, if it is your standard bloody show—dare we say, enjoy it?
Sounds weird, but this is one of the greatest bloody shows of your life.
And if you’re looking to share your experience of a bloody show, or you want to hear about other bloody show stories, join our community of mamas on Peanut.
🤰 More on labor and delivery from The 411:
How to Induce Labor (Yourself)
Choose Your Own (Birth) Adventure: 3 Must-Ask Questions
Safe Ways to Go into Labor Tonight
Tips for a More Confident Birth: 4 Things to Do Before You’re Due
18 Labor Tips For Moms
Birth Plan Template: Tips & Advice
Why Can’t You Eat During Labor?
Online Birthing Classes: Are They Right For You?
Castor Oil for Labor: What’s That About?
Preparing for Childbirth: Helpful Things to Know